Happy start to the 2023-24 school year!
SPEARFISH, SD – Students and teachers will be celebrating the first day of school this week in Spearfish public schools. To ensure a safe start to the school year, the Spearfish Police Department reminds motorists and pedestrians to be alert near school zones.
“After a summer of becoming acclimated to not seeing school buses, traffic volume changes at the beginning and end of the school day, and larger numbers of pedestrians walking near the school grounds, we all need to change our mindset to now prepare for all of those things,” Spearfish Public Safety Director Pat Rotert said. “School days naturally create traffic congestion as additional modes of transportation are utilized to get students to their classrooms, all during busy time of the day when motorists are travelling to work or home during the work week.”
According to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data, there were 264 school-age children (18 and younger) killed in school transportation-related crashes between 2008 to 2017 in the U.S. Motorists and pedestrians alike must be aware of and adhere to the rules of the road to keep everyone safe this school year and always.
Reminders for motorists:
- Slow down and pay attention in neighborhoods near schools. The speed limit in school zones is 15 mph when children are present.
- Be extra alert for children and other pedestrians, as well as school buses and other traffic, especially before the start of the school day and after the school day is complete. Expect the unexpected, as children can be unpredictable and are not always aware of their surroundings.
- A driver must yield to any children or adults crossing in crosswalk areas and obey the commands of a marked crossing guard/signal. Never pass a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian.
- Do not block a crosswalk when stopped at a stoplight or waiting to make a turn, as this forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle, which could place them in the path of moving traffic.
- When a school bus in stopped with its red signal lights flashing, motorists must bring their vehicles to a complete stop, at least 15 feet from the school bus, and remain stopped until the flashing red lights stop signaling. It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough away from the school bus to allow children space to safely enter and exit the bus.
- Be alert for youngsters walking to and from school as you back out of your driveway or leave your garage, and watch for children on bicycles, especially at intersections and driveways.
- When transporting children, ensure that they are wearing seatbelts/are using the proper car or booster seats.
- When dropping off/picking up students, be aware of the specific school’s policies and guidelines so you know where, when, and how the process works, for the safety of all.
Reminders for pedestrians:
- Access the roadway at designated intersections and crosswalks to ensure that you are visible to motorists. Do not leave the curb or place of safety until it is safe to cross. Stop and look left, then right, then left again before you step into the street to cross.
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid distractions such as cellphones/tablets/headphones/etc., while walking near roadways.
- There is safety in numbers; groups are more likely to be seen by motorists.
Reminders for bicyclists:
- Wear a helmet.
- Be sure to have reflectors on your pedals, bicycle frame, and wheels.
- Follow the rules of the road: Ride on the right, with the traffic, in single file. Obey stop signs and traffic lights. Never cross a street without looking for cars. Give the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks. Walk your bicycle on sidewalks whenever pedestrians are around you.
Reminders for parents:
- Help your children learn and practice the safety rules for walking, bicycling, or riding in a passenger car or school bus.
- Supervise young children as they are walking or biking to school or as they wait at the school bus stop.
- Be a good role model, especially when you are with your kids. Always buckle up in the car, always wear a helmet when biking, and always follow pedestrian safety rules.
- Talk to teen drivers about the importance of being extra careful in and around school zones.
Reminders for students:
- Always buckle up when riding in a car.
- Always wear a helmet and follow traffic safety rules when riding a bicycle.
- If you ride a school bus, learn and practice the safety rules for waiting at the bus stop, getting on and off the bus, and riding the bus.
- If you walk to school, learn and practice the safety rules for pedestrians. Always cross at crosswalks, obey all traffic signs, traffic lights, and safety patrol instructions.
- Be a good role model for younger brothers, sisters, friends, and classmates, and help them learn and practice the safety rules.
“We are looking forward to another great school year, and that includes motorists being mindful of school zones and school buses carrying our children,” Public Safety Director Rotert said. “Our officers will be paying attention to school zones and the safe operation of vehicles throughout the area near Spearfish schools in the coming weeks.”
The Spearfish School District’s school year is set to begin on Thursday, Aug. 24.